How one Boston brewer broke into the male-dominated beer industry and thrives

Jennifer Glanville is the head brewer of Sam Adams Brewery.

BOSTON -- It’s a chilly morning in Boston but inside Sam Adams Brewery, it’s warm and malty. Head brewer, Jennifer Glanville, sits down at a long table surrounded by staffers for a morning taste panel.

"People say, you must spit it out because it’s ten beers at 10:30 in the morning, and we’re like it’s not ten full beers!" she laughed.

According to a 2014 study by Stanford University, only 4% of breweries in the U.S. employ female brewmasters. Glanville is one of those women.

She said she stumbled into the beer industry almost by accident, partially because she didn’t know it was a career she could work towards.

"I still blame my parents for this," she joked. "They never told me I can have a career in brewing. It was very male dominated too, so I didn’t have anybody saying to me, 'Oh you love beer you should do this.'"

When Glanville first started at Sam Adams 18 years ago, she said she remembers experiencing minor instances of sexism.

"For example, a truck driver would show up and say I need a manager to sign for this and I would say, 'OK, great,' and he would say no, I need one of the guys to sign," Glanville said. She smirks at this memory because at the time, she was the manager.

But mostly, she said her time working in brewing has been overwhelmingly positive -- and that most men in the industry have been eager to mentor her and help her grow.

Early in her career, her boss, Sam Adams founder Jim Koch, sent her to a beer school in Germany to advance her brewing techniques. Later, she would be credited as the mastermind behind the special edition Sam Adams Oyster Stout.

Glanville also recently created a beer in honor of Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Belgian Brut IPA called When There Are Nine, inspired by Ginsburg's reply when asked, "When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?"

Besides concocting creative brews, Glanville has made it a mission to help up-and-coming brewers find a foothold in the industry. Glanville heads up Sam Adams' core philanthropic program, Brewing the American Dream, providing coaching and mentoring to aspiring brewers and small business owners.

"There’s so much to learn about beer and I love that I have the opportunity to do that and to just be immersed in this amazing industry," said Beverly Armstrong, a brewer who Glanville mentors through the program.

Glanville said her advice to new brewers is that even though the industry is heavily male dominated, they shouldn’t pick their mentors solely based on gender.

"My best mentors have actually been men because they recognize that they have to mentor me a little differently," she said.

“Focus on the best mentor for you because it shouldn’t be gender-based,” she added.

Watch Glanville’s episode above as part of the ABC News digital’s video series, “Trailblazers @ Work”.